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Compensation for Surgical Errors: Brain-Damaged Man Wins 20 year Legal Battle

Compensation for Surgical Errors: Brain-Damaged Man Wins 20 year Legal Battle

Twenty-three-year-old Daniel Jefferies has won a 20-year fight for compensation and been awarded a six-figure sum by University Hospitals Bristol Trust, after he was left brain-damaged following surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary.

At the age of four, Mr Jeffries underwent surgery at the hospital to correct a congenital heart defect. Following the operation, his family claimed that the surgeon, Janardan Dhasmana, left Daniel on heart bypass for too long. Mr Dhasmana was also alleged to have followed incorrect procedures when eventually bringing Daniel off bypass.

The family said that there had been a failure to address an obstruction in Daniel’s blood-flow and that following the treatment Daniel showed signs of cognitive impairment, which have persisted into his adult life, leaving him with learning difficulties and in need of special care throughout his life.

Scandal led to 35 infant deaths

Daniel’s clinical negligence case is one of many to emerge from the Bristol heart scandal, in which 35 babies died and dozens more were left brain-damaged, following surgery carried out at the unit in between 1983 and 1995. The scandal came to light when concerns about the mortality rate of babies undergoing heart surgery at the Bristol Royal Infirmary eventually led to one of the biggest public inquiries ever undertaken into the workings of the NHS.

The inquiry carried out in 2001 by Professor Ian Kennedy concluded that there had been an “old boys culture among doctors”, including secrecy about doctors’ levels of performance and a lack of monitoring by management. It also found a lax approach to safety at the unit.

In 2011, Steven Walker, the then-chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority, the body which handles legal claims on behalf of hospital trusts, revealed that over £23m had so far been paid out in compensation damages to victims of the scandal.

Compensation settlement reached

The settlement was agreed shortly before Daniel’s case was due to be heard in court this week. Deborah Lee, deputy chief executive at University Hospitals Bristol Trust, said: “A settlement has been agreed in the High Court in relation to cardiac surgery a patient received in Bristol in the 1990s. We wish the patient and his family all the best for the future”.

How to claim compensation for surgical errors and negligence

You are entitled to expect a certain standard of treatment from those providing medical assistance to you. If this treatment falls below standard you may be entitled to recover the cost of the private medical treatment needed to correct the failings on the part of those originally treating you.Laura Thompson, solicitor in the personal injury and medical negligence team comments:

Incidents while undergoing treatment of any form that ultimately lead to a poorer outcome than anticipated are not always the result of negligence. This matter brought by Mr Jefferies and his family, however, highlights just one of many significant failings on the part of the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and specifically healthcare workers and other staff at Bristol Royal Infirmary at that particular time. While there are risks involved in any surgical procedure, the evidence suggested that there were issues of performance of surgeons and a lack of adequate management that cannot be excused.

If you want to enquire about making a clinical negligence claim, please contact a member of our team on 01895 207835 or 01895 207295. Alternatively, you can send an email with your name and contact information and brief details as to the nature of the accident/clinical negligence and the injuries sustained to malcolm.underhill@ibblaw.co.uk and one of our team will be able to help you.